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Tue November 30 2021

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Winner chosen for lighting London bridges

8 Dec 16 A design competition to light up London’s bridges has been won by American ‘light artist’ Leo Villareal with British architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

How Westminster bridge might look at night, according to the winning entry
How Westminster bridge might look at night, according to the winning entry

The winning team will now develop its design concept in collaboration with stakeholders and others along the river, and in consultation with the public. This work will take place in 2017. The ultimate plan is to install lighting on the 17 bridges between Tower Bridge and Albert Bridge.

Hannah Rothschild, chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, which organised the competition, said: “Leo Villareal’s proven ability to paint with light matched with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ direct experience of building bridges over the Thames was an irresistible and inspirational combination.

“Their scheme is beautiful, ambitious and realisable but always considerate to the environment, lighting levels and energy conservation. The jury is convinced that the winning team will transform the centre of London while remaining true to the spirit and integrity of the Thames and its communities.”

The Illuminated River Foundation is raising funds for the cost of the project from private and philanthropic sources rather than the public purse. The Arcadia Fund (Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing) and the Rothschild Foundation have already each pledged £5m.

Seed funding of £100,000 was granted by the Greater London Authority to support the design competition, alongside funding of £250,000 from the Rothschild Foundation, and a contribution of £500,000 from the City of London Corporation (via the Bridge House Estates) towards the delivery of the first phase.

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Leo Villareal designed the light installation on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. He said: “I’m delighted and humbled by the fact that the jury went with an artistically-driven vision for the Illuminated River. The whole team shares a belief in the power of large-scale public culture and art to enrich our cities. We are deeply committed to this project.

“In order to nuance the concept design and create presence and legibility, we intend to take time to study the river in all its manifestations. We want to listen to Londoners in developing the scheme to deliver at all levels of art and light, urban design and architecture, the environment and sustainability.

“Our aim is for a lighting masterplan which reduces pollution and wasted energy, is sensitive to history and ecology and subtly rebalances the ambient lighting on the river to provide a beautiful night time experience for residents and visitors.”

The winning team in full is:

  • Leo Villareal (lead artist)
  • Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (lead consultant)
  • Future\Pace (curator)
  • Atelier Ten
  • Beckett Rankine
  • Bradley Hemmings
  • Core Five
  • Futurecity
  • Greenwich+Docklands International Festival
  • Montagu Evans
  • Pentagram
  • Price & Myers

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